Huawei pulled out the stops with its latest smartphone line-up, unveiling a major upgrade to its Mate series that positions its new flagship Mate 20 Pro as a serious competitor to recent rival launches by Apple and Samsung.
At an event in London, Huawei’s consumer business group CEO Richard Yu hailed the power, efficiency and intelligence of its new phones, with the event’s build up promising features of “A Higher Intelligence”, suggesting a big focus on AI capabilities.
Along with the Mate 20 Pro, which was repeatedly held up by Yu during the presentation as Huawei’s superior response to Apple’s recently launched iPhone XS line and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, the company also unveiled the lower spec Mate 20, a larger screen Mate 20 X, a refreshed luxury Porsche Design RS and a new smartwatch. At IFA 2018, it also unveiled the Mate 20 Lite.
Mate 20 Pro
Despite the eyebrow raising and somewhat unexpected launch of the Mate 20 X, the company placed most attention on the Mate 20 Pro. Indeed, after displacing Apple as the world’s number two smartphone vendor in August 2018, the Chinese vendor will hope the device will help get it closer to top spot, a position occupied currently by long-term king Samsung.
With a 6.39 inch QHD+OLED curved screen, the device packs a 4,200mAH battery and Huawei’s Kirin 980 processor – the first 7nm silicon that matches Apple’s A12 Bionic chip in its newest iPhones.
The phones will be powered by Huawei’s EMUI 9, on top of Android 9 Pie, with Yu revealing the Mate devices launch “the top 50 apps” one second faster than Apple’s iPhone XS and 400 milliseconds faster than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Continuing the comparison, unlike the Apple and Samsung devices, the Mate 20 Pro includes a triple camera system (like its sister device the P20), with a 40 megapixel wide angle lens, a 20 megapixel ultra-wide angle lens and an 8 megapixel telephoto lens, which can enable numerous AI-powered shooting modes.
Yu also showed a major Augmented Reality feature on stage, which used the camera’s enhanced capabilities to bring a product to life on the device (the demo displayed a toy panda posing with Yu for a picture.)
Another eye-catching feature – “reverse wireless charging” – not only enables charging on a wireless pad, but the device itself can charge another Qi-compatible phone or accessory directly from the back of the device.
The demo showed a drained iPhone XS battery being charged directly from a Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The device also has fast charging capabilities, which Yu said provides the capability of adding 1 percentage point of battery life in 30 seconds.
Other features include an infrared 3D facial recognition system, similar to Face ID on Apple’s new phones, as well as an embedded fingerprint scanner on the device’s screen and gesture navigation. The USB-C port also doubles up as a hidden speaker.
The Mate 20 has a slightly bigger 6.5 inch screen, albeit LCD. It has a lower spec camera system and doesn’t include face recognition or an embedded fingerprint scanner.
Mate 20 X
Saving the biggest for last, the Huawei Mate 20 X is the largest of the line-up with a 7.2 inch screen, and was positioned largely by Yu as ideal for gamers (he compared it to the Nintendo Switch console).
Yu talked up the device’s gaming capabilities, which is enhanced by a technology to keep the device cool even under heavy usage.
Fitting with its focus on gaming, the company is also developing a gamepad to attach to the device. It is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery, which it said gives the Mate X double the gaming life of a Nintendo Switch.
Huawei confirms top table seat
CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood believes the Mate series sees Huawei square up to its smartphone rivals.
“Today’s announcements confirms Huawei’s seat at the top table of smartphone makers. Now let’s see how rivals respond,” he added.
The Mate 20 Pro will have a starting price of €1,049, the Mate 20 costs €799 and Mate 20 X will set consumers back €899.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back